Bring back home all the hostages
חזרה לעמוד הקודם

Internet in Israel’s Arab Society

Among ISOC-IL’s foremost priorities is the preservation of internet freedom. It is our belief that internet freedom relies not only on users’ technical capacity to browse the web freely and safely, but also on their ability to take full advantage of its potential.

The term “digital divide” refers to societal disparities in:

  1. availability and quality of access to digital media and the internet;
  2. awareness of the possibilities, opportunities and risks inherent in the internet;
  3. and skills that enable the best use of the internet.

A digital divide typically stems from and further deepens pre-existing socioeconomic disparities, such as poor infrastructural investment by state, local and business entities; absence of economic resources; lack of education; inadequate digital skills; limited job opportunities; and conservative social attitudes. 

This policy paper was prepared by Dr. Asma Ganayem, an expert in the digital space in the Arab society in Israel, and commissioned by ISOC-IL. It presents the known data regarding the digital divide between the Arab and Jewish populations in Israel and points to data that has yet to be ascertained, providing a foundation for further studies as well as practical suggestions to lessen the digital gap between the two. We show that the disparity in smartphone-based internet use between Jewish and Arab societies in Israel has grown smaller, in large part due to the increased prevalence of smartphones. However, we show significant gaps in physical access to computers and internet infrastructure, as well as gaps in digital literacy and the way the internet is used, even among young people. Consequently, a large portion of Arab society is unable to take full advantage of the internet’s resources, many of which could afford them opportunities for economic and societal development and growth.

Though the digital divide between the Arab and Jewish populations in Israel is only one of several socioeconomic gaps between the two, we believe that investing in internet accessibility and functionality could serve as a powerful catalyst for rapid socio-economic progress in Israeli Arab society, helping to diminish disparities in all fields. This would not only benefit Arab society and further values of social fairness and equality, but would be economically beneficial to the whole of Israel’s society.

Based on our research findings, we recommend seven action areas upon which we elaborate in the full paper:

  1. The establishment of a national center for digitalization in Arab society which will put a national strategy into action and close the digital divide by 2025. The strategy must include 3 critical components:
    1. Infrastructure improvement
    2. Adaptation of municipal and governmental websites to Arab society
    3. Improvement of digital education
  2. Equality of cellular and internet infrastructure between Arab localities and Jewish or mixed localities. We recommend a course of action by which the Ministry of Communications can leverage its power to achieve this.
  3. Government and municipal services must be made more accessible to the Arab population, and the focal point of municipal activity in the Arab society should gradually be shifted from physical to virtual, so that the vast majority of information and services will be available online, while still providing in-person assistance to those who need it.
  4. Advancement of digital literacy by the Ministry of Education.
  5. Incentivizing digital entrepreneurship in Arab society with the help of the Israel Innovation Authority (formerly the Chief Scientist’s Office).
  6. Affirmative action programs in business and industry funded by the Ministry of Economy and Industry, encouraging the advancement of digital content in Arab society.
  7. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Education and the Knesset’s Science and Technology Committee must join hands in advancing statistical studies assessing digital literacy and accessibility among the Arab population.


Read the full paper (in Hebrew) here:

Read the Arabic introduction here: